December 5th, 2012
09:00 PM ET

Letters to the President #1416: 'The wisdom of penguins'

Reporter's Note: President Obama and Congressional Republicans are basically daring each other to jump off the fiscal cliff. I’m daring them to reconsider and read my latest letter to the White House.

Dear Mr. President,

When penguins in Antarctica are ready for a swim but fearful that a predator, such as a sea lion or killer whale, might be lurking in the water they have a simple way to deal with the problem. As a group, they start crowding closer and closer to the edge of the ice pack, bumping, nudging, and pushing each other, until one of them falls off the edge. If he disappears in a bloody froth, they all hang up their beach towels and go back to reading Fifty Shades of Gray or whatever it is they do to pass those long, cold winters.

If however, he pops his little black and white head up from the waves and says, “Oh, very funny guys. I can’t stop laughing out here. You’re hilarious,” then the rest of them jump in too, slapping him on the back and offering him extra tidbits of fish to make amends.

At least that is how I understand the situation. I’ve never witnessed it firsthand, but this is what I’ve read.

In the animal world, I suppose it passes for a good plan. Sure, if you’re the penguin who gets served up like a plate of foie gras, your afternoon pretty much sucks. But this system reduces the risk for everyone else and in the grand scheme of penguindom, keeps the flock alive year after year.

I mention it because as you, your Democrats, and the Republicans keep waddling closer to the edge of the fiscal cliff, I can’t help but see images of penguins all over Capitol Hill…trying to see who falls over the edge first. Here is the difference, though: When the penguins do it way down south, only one falls. In this game that you are all playing, it may be true that some of your…or one party may fall faster than the other…but if you mess around about making a deal long enough we will all fall. And the fate for elected officials of all stripes may be very ugly down in the murky waters where angry voters swim…and wait…

Call if you can. I’m around.


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